Rita Ora is best known as a famous singer, with a host of successful songs, but what did she do before finding fame?
Before she became famous, Rita Ora lived in London and performed as a singer in the local clubs and bars. She also had a job in a sneaker store during the day.
Read more below about Rita Ora’s life before fame and the career in the limelight that followed.
Rita Ora’s Early Life
Rita Ora was born in 1990 in Yugoslavia to her Albanian parents. At the time, Kosovo, former Yugoslavia, was embroiled in conflict.
The year after Ora was born, the family fled the country and moved to London, a decision made by Ora’s parents to protect their young children. “Thousands were killed,” Ora tells Vogue, “And more than one million people were forced to flee.”
Her parents, a psychiatrist and an economist by profession, were forced to adapt to their new home and learn English. Growing us a refugee, she says, came with difficulty.
“It was always tough growing up; there was a lot of prejudice and judgment. I was often called a refugee in a derogatory way,” she recalls.
Despite growing up in London, Ora considers herself to be Kosovan. “I will forever be a true Kosovan at heart,” she says.
“I’ll never forget my roots and I’ll be forever proud of my heritage – I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Ora pursued her passion for performing from a young age. “The only thing I was ever interested in was singing. Ever since I was really little, like six or something, it’s all I’ve wanted to do,” she said in an interview.
She attended the esteemed Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, auditioning for a place after her choir teacher told her about the institution. The school boasts a number of famous musicians and actors amongst its alumni.
As a teen, she balanced studying for her education with a part-time job selling sneakers, as well as performing at small gigs in the evening. “I’d play anywhere,” she explains, “Bars and clubs, in my dad’s pub, just to be out singing.”
Rise to Fame
It was through small London gigs that Ora got her big break. A contact of Roc Nation, the record label founded by Jay-Z, discovered her performing.
She was asked to send a demo of her music and fly out to New York to meet Jay-Z. “I worked in a trainer store so I told them I’d only have enough money to come over for two weeks,” she reminisces. “They laughed and told me they’d get the ticket. So I went over, met the team and they signed me! And gave me a suitcase full of trainers!”
In 2009, she made an appearance in Jay-Z’s music video for his track ‘Young Forever’, and also appeared in an advertising campaign for the rapper’s headphone line.
Her debut studio album, appropriately named ‘Ora’, was released in 2012.
Fans had to wait six years for her second album ‘Phoenix’, though this has been described by the Independent as “Worth the wait.”
She has had 4 songs appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including a top ten single with her Iggy Azalea collaboration track ‘Black Widow’.
Beyond music, Ora has had judging roles on The Voice and The X Factor, as well as several high profile TV presenting roles.
She remains committed to her Kosovan roots, and in 2015, became an honorary ambassador to the country.
“What I wanna do,” she told the Independent when speaking about her role, “I want to tell my generation [of Kosovans] about the power we have to change our political system.”